A highly anticipated showdown between Nate Marquardt (34-10-2) and Rick Horror Story (13-3-0), along with some exciting heavyweight bouts, goes down on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Marquardt will be making his debut in the welterweight division against Story this Sunday. Subsequent to Marquardt's unanimous-decision win to Dan Miller at UFC 128, he decided he was more comfortable at his walking weight of 170 pounds instead of gaining during training camp.
Confident and solid, Story is on a steady victory roll with six consecutive wins. He is also well aware that Marquardt is a test at his new weight. Still fresh off a recent victory over Thiago Alves (23-7), Story agreed to fight Marquardt only a week after the fight.
This should be a challenging fight for both fighters.
Story is relentless from the opening bell and mixes it up between striking and takedowns.
Marquardt is going to have to strike fast, and with the extra weight off, he may even be more fluid.
But Nate the Great must also be wary of Story's submissions as he is susceptible to fall victim to fighters with a solid wrestling background.
As long as Marquardt keeps his back off the mat, he should be able to get out from under Story's pressure using his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills.
Don't count out Story when he stands. Also, take into account that Marquardt is the considered the more powerful striker, but has yet to be seen as a welterweight.
In other matches, Cheick Kongo (23-6) will face Pat Barry (8-2) in a heavyweight match up. Both fighters have an extensive kickboxing experience with records of (23-2) and (25-6) respectively.
With a seven-inch reach advantage, Kongo could get Barry in a vulnerable position if he uses his double leg takedown. However, Barry is more apt to strike then use his takedown skills. Barry may have a better chance at dictating the fight through his fists followed by powerful kicks.
Welterweights Matt Brown (11-10) and John Howard (20-6) promises to be a competitive fight, as well. Doomsday Howard will likely utilize his kickboxing skills to get Brown where he wants him while going for the knockout. If the fight gets to the floor, Brown may have the edge with an armbar or guillotine choke.
Matt Mitrione (4-0) will face off with Christian Morecraft (8-1) in a heavyweight clash. Mitrione's strength plus his speed can have Morecraft more prone to succumb to his punches. Morecraft will be coming to fight and is a beast when on top of his opponent. Morecraft has good takedown skills but must get through Mitrione's fast footwork.
With a mix of veterans, prospects and contenders Sunday's fights promise to be intriguing.
All fighters have their eye on the big prize: a title opportunity.